Tuesday, March 13, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 12 March 2012
Canadian International Financial Sports

Ottawa to stop labour fights at Air Canada
Federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt says she will introduce back-to-work legislation in connection with Air Canada and its labour dispute with its pilots and machinists unions. The bill follows a move by the minister last week to block a work
stoppage at the airline by referring the dispute to the Canada Industrial Relations Board. Flights at Air Canada were set to stop after the airline said it would lock out its pilots and its mechanics and baggage handlers said they would go on strike in the midst of the key spring holiday season. Mrs. Raitt says the government is moving to protect the Canadian economy with the legislation. Air Canada's employees have been trying to win back pay and concessions they gave up to help the airline restructure under bankruptcy protection. The pilots union and the machinists are the last two unions with which Air Canada needs to reach an agreement.

Landmark tobacco suit launched
A landmark tobacco case with up to $27 billion at stake started Monday in a Montreal courtroom, with Canada's three largest cigarette companies squaring off against a group of Quebec smokers. The class-action case is considered the biggest in Canadian history. The smokers claim in a lawsuit that they were duped for years by big tobacco companies, as they became addicted to cigarettes and then suffered from serious health problems. The case marks the first time tobacco companies have gone to trial in a civil suit in Canada. The defendants are Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd.; Rothmans, Benson & Hedges; and JTI-Macdonald. A lawyer representing Imperial Tobacco said Monday that with all
the publicly available information on the dangers of tobacco, smokers must take responsibility for their decision to light up.

Conservatives finally to approve tough-on-crime bill
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's majority Conservative government is poised to pass its omnibus crime bill and make good on an election promise with a couple of days to spare. A vote in the House of Commons this evening will send the massive bill, which includes nine separate pieces of previous legislation, back to the Conservative-dominated Senate, where it could get its final approval as early as Tuesday. This coming weekend marks the deadline Mr. Harper set last April when he promised the Conservative criminal justice agenda would be enacted within 100 sitting days of a new parliament. The bill increases sentences for drug and sex offences, reduces the use of conditional sentences such as house arrest, provides harsher penalties on young offenders, makes it more difficult to get a pardon and allows victims of terrorism to sue.

Drug shortage causing worry
The Canadian Cancer Society is demanding that federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq do more to address the urgent issue of drug shortages in the country. The Society says it is unacceptable that some cancer patients are finding themselves unable to access the drugs they need for their treatment. The problem of drug shortages has been increasing over the last year, but escalated recently with the temporary shut-down of a plant in Quebec which makes 90 per cent of all injectable drugs used in the country. The Sandoz Canada plant is expected to resume production in the near future. The Cancer Society suggests a number of steps the federal government could take, including setting up a mandatory listing of unavailable drugs and an early warning system to monitor looming shortages. Health Canada said last week it is working with the pharmaceutical industry to identify alternate sources of drugs.

Canada deplores Afghanistan massacre
Canada's Defence Minister Peter MacKay has denounced the killing of 16 Afghan civilians in Afghanistan as a random and cowardly act of violence. He was referring to a U.S. Army sergeant who was responsible for the massacre in the province of Kandahar. Mr. MacKay says it will not affect Canadians, both military personnel and civilians, who are working to build a better Afghanistan. Canada has about 920 military trainers in that country after the Canadian combat mission in Afghanistan ended last summer.

Alleged Canadian hood captured in Panama
Police in Panama say they have captured a fugitive with suspected ties to the Hells Angels motorcycle gang who is wanted in Canada for 22 murders. A police statement says Michel Smith was detained Friday in the Playa Coronado tourist region, 100 kilometres west of Panama City. The police say Mr. Smith was captured after a two-month surveillance operation, adding that he is wanted in Canada on 29 charges, including 22 counts of murder. Canadian police have been looking for Smith since a massive 2009 gang sweep in the province of Quebec. Panamanian police say they are co-ordinating his extradition to Canada.

Halifax transit strike winds down
It appears that bus service will resume this week in the east coast Canadian city of Halifax. A tentative agreement has been reached in the city's six-week long bus strike. Mayor Peter Kelly says details of the agreement, reached with the help of a conciliator, won't be released until members of the Amalgamated Transit Union and council votes on the deal. The vote is expected to be held on Tuesday. Transit services could be back by the end of the week.


Syrian troops turn attention to new target
Syrian activists report that the Syrian army launched a new assault on Monday in the restive northern province of Idlib and the city itself, where residents are suffering "indescribable" humanitarian conditions. The army offensive, which follows a ferocious weekend assault by regime forces against rebel bastions in Idlib, came as 27 people were killed in violence across Syria, according to monitors. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says they comprised 12 civilians, 12 soldiers and three rebels. While the army controls some parts of the city that were wrested from the rebels in an assault on Saturday, others remain in the hands of the insurgents. In the Dbeit neighbourhood, 20 bodies were discovered on Sunday night, according to Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britian-based Syrian Observatory.

Israeli defence system reported proving itself
Israel's Iron Dome rocket shield has passed its first serious test. Gaza's Hamas rulers have been careful to stay on the sidelines. This is one of the trends emerging from four days of fighting between Israel's air force and Gaza rocket squads, triggered by Israel's killing of a militant leader last week. Twenty-four Palestinians have been killed, including seven on Monday, and about 1 million Israelis in rocket range have seen their lives disrupted by the threat of rocket attacks, with frequent sirens warning them to run for cover. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Israel would keep striking those trying to harm Israeli civilians and that Israel is "ready to broaden its operation." In Israel, government officials and missile experts praised the performance of Iron Dome, an Israeli-made system designed to shoot down short-range rockets like those fired from Gaza. Iron Dome uses cameras and radar to track incoming rockets and intercepts only those that would pose a threat to people and property, ignoring those that are expected to fall in open areas.

Venezuelan leader to return after new surgery
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez says he will return home in a week's time from Cuba, where he recently underwent cancer surgery. He issued his statements during a two-hour televised address from Havana. He will start radiation therapy for cancer on his return to Caracas. However, there's concern that the treatment could leave him weakened ahead of his re-election bid on Oct. 7.

WTO rules in favour of Airbus
The World Trade Organization's appeal body handed down a final ruling on Monday that found that subsidies and tax breaks to US planemaker Boeing caused serious prejudice to its European rival Airbus. The TWO's Appellate Body found that subsidies and tax breaks caused, through their effects on Boeing's prices, serious prejudice in the form of significant lost sales" to Airbus in the market for civil aircraft with 100-200 seats, according to a summary of the 700-page ruling. That segment is for the medium-haul Airbus A320 and Boeing 737, which are their top selling aircrafts. The WTO appeals panel reversed a number of findings from the initial ruling March 2011, saying that tax breaks provided to Boeing from the US state of Washington and the city of Wichita, Kansas magnified other subsidies and caused price effects that caused lost sales.

UK denounces Argentine 'blockade'
A junior minister in Britain's Foreign Office on Monday denounced Argentina's "economic blockade," amid a growing trade row with the Falkland Islands. Tensions have been building over the South Atlantic islands, which Britain controls but Argentina claims, ahead of next month's 30th anniversary of the start of the war the two countries fought over the Falklands. Jeremy Browne, British minister of state at the Foreign Office, said after meeting with Chilean Finance Minister Felipe Larrain that the UK doesn't not seek a dispute with Argentina but has an absolute belief in the principle of self-determination. Mr. Browne is on a Latin American tour that will also take him to Colombia and Peru. The minister's tour is officially aimed at strengthening economic ties with Chile, Colombia and Peru, all members of the Mercosur bloc, which signed an agreement in December closing their ports to Falklands-flagged ships. The latest chapter in the row between Britain and Argentina comes after the British governor of the Falklands early this month rebuffed an Argentine proposal for more regular flights to the disputed archipelago, saying it wanted air links with "less hostile" countries.

U.S. astronaut ends career
The U.S. space agency NASA said Monday that an astronaut who spent more hours walking in space than any other American and also set a record for the longest spaceflight mission has retired to join the private sector. Michael Lopez-Alegria, 53, flew three space shuttle missions and spent seven months aboard the International Space Station as commander of the Expedition 14 mission in 2006-2007, arriving aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The 215-day mission, the longest single spaceflight by an American, made up a significant chunk of his total 257 days in space. He logged over 67 hours during 10 spacewalks, more than any other American, ranking him second in the world after record-holder Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Solovyev.


Canadian mine project continues as issue in Romania
A key figure of Romania's 1989 revolution, Laszlo Tvkes, resigned from his party on Monday over a controversial Canadian gold mine project in northwestern Romania. Laszlo Tvkes, resigned from his party on Monday over a controversial Canadian gold mine project in northwestern Romania. His stand centres on the proposed use of cyanide to leach the precious metal from excavated material.from the mine at Rosia Montana in northwestern Romania. Mr. Tokes accused the Hungarian minority UDMR party of supporting plans by Canadian firm Gabriel Resources to use up to 12,000 tons of cyanide a year to extract 300 tonnes of gold in operations at Rosia Montana, in the heart of Transylvania. The project has been criticized by environmentalists, archaeologists and non-governmental organisations fighting corruption but it has the support of Romanian President Traian Basescu.

SK has different attitude toward second fertilizer potash firm
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says Viterra Inc. is not a strategic asset on the scale of PotashCorp. The comments made in Regina came as several foreign bidders were reportedly lining up to make takeover offers for the prairie grain handler. Viterra confirmed last week that it had received "expressions of interest from third-parties." The potential bids come as the company is poised to benefit from the end of the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly on the marketing of wheat and barley in Western Canada. The Saskatchewan premier helped lead the opposition to a takeover attempt by BHP Billiton for PotashCorp. Ottawa eventually blocked that deal under provisions of the Investment Canada Act.

Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday: 12,428, down 76. Canadian dollar: US$100.74, down 0.18. Euro: $1.30. Oil: $106.39 - $1.01.


Philadelphia goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov is the National Hockey League's first star of the week. He won all three of his starts and posted a zero-point-65 goals-against average. New Jersey forward Ilya Kovalchuk and St. Louis goalie Jaroslav Halak are the other stars.

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